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‘Right to participate in cultural life’: Intangible heritage for sustainable development

WATCH: Significant Changes to Teaching via ICT


“The concept of human rights is bound closely to the belief that culture is precious and central to our identity,” notes the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in reference to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration. “The way we are born, live and die is affected by the culture to which we belong, so to take away our cultural heritage is to deny us our identity.”

UNESCO Bangkok, is located in the heart of one of the most culturally diverse regions on the planet and the office’s Culture Unit is active in efforts to promote and preserve the region’s vast cultural legacy. This includes advocating on behalf of and providing technical support for the safeguarding and preservation of physical heritage, promoting diversity in cultural expressions and also ensuring that knowledge is passed down through generations.

The office recognizes the tremendous value of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in addressing the most pressing challenges facing Asia-Pacific – specifically in promoting sustainable development in the region. Experience based on centuries worth of wisdom based around areas such as how to deal with natural disasters and climate challenges, for instance, form part of this region’s ICH.

The question becomes: how can the younger generation acquire this knowledge, both through their communities and their schools?

In 2013 UNESCO Bangkok, in collaboration with the Islamabad, Hanoi, Apia and Tashkent offices, began a project that attempted to answer this question by exploring how ICH could best be incorporated into classrooms to raise awareness around sustainable development.